Private Project


The story of Raju, an unnoticed dance studio caretaker whose love for a beautiful dance instructor ignites his journey of self identity.

  • Kawa Hatef
  • Kawa Hatef
  • Sanjay Mahale
  • Aditi Bhagwat
  • Manav Chauhan
    Key Cast
  • Aditi Bhagwat
    Key Cast
  • Suhita Thatte
    Key Cast
  • Charudatta Bhagwat
    Key Cast
  • Parthaa Akerkar
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Foreign, LGBTQ
  • Runtime:
    17 minutes 56 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 14, 2016
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Hindi
  • Shooting Format:
    Arri Alexa
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Kawa Hatef

Kawa Hatef was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1983 during the Soviet Invasion. In 1986 he and his family immigrated to California as refugees.

After completing numerous student shorts and receiving a BA in Film & Digital Media Studies at UC Santa Cruz ('07) he made his first trip to India where he was the American-Unit Producer for the Bollywood film “Call Back.”

Between 2009-2014, Kawa relocated to New York City, where he edited several Columbia University short films, campaign projects for NY State, did post production and assistant editor work on award winning documentaries ("Watcher of the Sky", "Bully") and even produced an off-Broadway play (Wish I had a Sylvia Plath).

2015 was a busy year as Kawa traveled to Afghanistan twice (for a total of four months) to develop and shoot his short film "For Honor." He immediately jumped over to Mumbai, India where he made the short film "aarsa" in Spring of 2016.

Kawa loves to write - completing the feature screenplay “The Lost Ones” in late 2015. He is currently writing a second feature screenplay titled “Lucky.”

Kawa has a great love for nature and history and is incredibly passionate about telling stories about those often neglected.

Kawa lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his incredibly supportive family.

Kawa Hatef

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I try to tell stories that challenge our beliefs -whether that’s about an Afghan woman facing the social stigma of rape or a young Indian man coming to terms with his sexuality and gender identity. But I aim to do this while entertaining my viewer. I focus on dramatic irony and tone. I want my films to feel complete but leave the viewer wanting more.

Being the child of immigrants, I found myself constantly trying to reconcile my two cultures. Many times this task left me more confused and alienated with every effort. I discovered effective therapy came by sharing my story. Everyone is different. I wanted to share how I was different. Unfortunately, most people can’t sit around and listen to thoughts, feeling and perspectives that are so foreign to them they literally have no reference. I learned that in order to have people listen, you have to package your story. Build a world that everyone understands. Get your message out by weaving it through an experience everyone can relate to. Hope, desire, justice, heartache, betrayal, happiness, are tools to tell any story.

For "aarsa", I chose to tell the story of a young man at a particular stage in life where identity is usually formed. Your teens. It’s a crucial stage in everyone’s life and I find that it’s also the point where society’s expectations are the greatest. The pressure created from the expectation of who you should be and who you want to be is tremendously dramatic and something we all can relate to. I wanted to challenge my own thoughts and beliefs about a young man discovering his identity and hoped to spark the same internal questioning in others.

I pushed myself as a filmmaker on the production side as well by going far from the comforts of home making a film in India. I had to learn to bridge the gaps of language, culture and even filmmaking norms. I welcomed the thoughts and ideas of everyone involved and it truly took the film in a direction I would never have imagined. This film is the fruit of very hard labor. It's a true collaboration of dedicated people from many different walks of life. It's a film I'm incredibly proud of just to have completed.